Among the many ways that the construction industry is transforming, lowering its carbon footprint is arguably one of the most important changes currently underway. Historically, construction has been a significant consumer of resources and often guilty of wasteful practices. With regulatory standards getting ever stronger – along with environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices carrying more weight – construction companies are swiftly adapting to new greener strategies. While some might see this as yet another burden that they have to take on to stay in business, ultimately most organizations will embrace this as an opportunity to save money, become more efficient, and emerge as a best-of-breed company with a strong moral and ecological ethos that is invested in the communities that it serves.
As an organization that serves the construction community, we at 4castplus feel it is our obligation to provide both information and solutions to help companies become more green and efficient; and by doing that, our customers also become more profitable and productive. One of the best resources we can tap into for initiatives like this, is the wealth of ideas and practices we learn from our clients and the industry in general. So many great minds are tackling this issue, so we’ll share these ideas as they come to us. To start, here is a quick list of sustainability plans companies are putting into practice
While this may seem obvious, the challenge is how and where can a company reduce waste? And, is it going to cost more money or time? There is no straightforward answer to that, but typically there is an initial investment to change some processes and practices which will generate a payback over time. Here are a few objectives to consider:
Salvage surplus materials
A solution like 4castplus provides visibility into all the materials that have been purchased, shipped to site, stored, and then installed. At the end of the project, users can run reports on any materials in the project inventory that were not utilized; and then salvage, sell or repurpose these materials.
Use Equipment Efficiently
Heavy equipment can burn a lot of resources. Optimizing the in-use hours of equipment, therefore, is a key method for minimizing both waste and cost. Tracking the hours that each piece of equipment has been onsite and in-use is also critical for reporting on equipment utilization. This information sheds light on the efficiency of how equipment has been used, and thus provides insight into how to improve that efficiency going forward.
A great deal of waste is generated in having to redo work that was partially or fully completed and, in the process, doubling the use of equipment, materials and other consumables. It’s common for contractors to face gaps or errors in the information provided to them to complete their deliverables. Common sources of rework include: issues in drawings, shifting site conditions and change orders, for example. These can all have a major impact on accurately completing construction. Employing project controls practices, having real-time access to project data and drawings – along with effective communications tools – can all help significantly in reducing the probability of rework.
A critical part of the battle in achieving sustainable construction is in the standardization of team processes and policies. Construction contractors are naturally driven by getting the work done, and thus often put any overarching process to the side. Standardization of processes, improved communications and detailed documentation can all eliminate a misuse of resources from rework, disputes, claims, wasted activity and so on.
Prioritize Suppliers that Source Locally
Another industry trend we are hearing about more regularly, is a inclination towards locally-sourced materials and fabricators. When construction materials are sourced from overseas or from long distances, those have a significant carbon footprint compared with those that are obtained from a local manufacturer or fabricator.
Prefabrication and Modular Construction
There is a significant movement towards a design where constructed elements are prefabricated offsite in transportable modules that can be effectively plugged in at the jobsite. By doing this, the process for building each module can take advantage of a more efficient, controlled and productive environment. It lessens the waste of materials and unnecessary equipment at site, and reduces the chances of errors.